Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese brand’s most audacious phone yet. It has an in-display fingerprint scanner, four cameras, can wirelessly charge other phones and more. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has Huawei’s custom silicon, a custom software experience, and an incredible camera setup thanks to the company’s ongoing partnership with Leica. It has pretty much everything one could ask for from a flagship phone.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro design
Inside the box, we’re greeted by the typical accessories such as a USB Type-C headset, data cable, charger, SIM eject tool, Type-C to 3.5mm adapter, and some instructions. The Mate 20 Pro feels incredible from the moment you pick it up. The exposed metal frame along the sides offers very good rigidity, and the glass front and back taper at the sides, blending seamlessly with the metal so you barely feel any of the edges.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes in two new colours, in addition to Pink Gold and the classic Twilight shade. One of them is Emerald Green, It features a new ‘hyper-optical pattern’ on the glass which is said to result in better grip and fewer fingerprints. The fine diagonal stripes can be felt if you run a fingernail along the body, and this is definitely less slippery in the hand than plain glass. It doesn’t pick up too many fingerprints either.
The phone has an incredible screen-to-body ratio, as the display curves to the left and right sides, and the chin at the bottom is very small. The notch on the top isn’t too deep but it is wide, to accommodate all the sensors. There are multiple display customisation options including colour mode and colour temperature. All of this combined, makes the Mate 20 Pro look absolutely stunning and it’s easily one of the best smartphone displays in the market. The Mate 20 Pro features an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is placed closer to the middle of the display rather than towards the bottom. It’s quite ergonomic, as your thumb lines up with the sensor easily, without having to reach for it.
Other than unlocking the phone, you can use your registered fingerprints to access locked apps, and a private space. You can even program a specific fingerprint to launch the Paytm app directly from the lock screen. The volume and power buttons are placed on the right of the phone, and they have a good clicky feel to them. We also love the contrasting red colour given to the power button, which adds to the phone’s style. On the top, we have an IR emitter for controlling infrared electronics, while at the bottom we have a USB Type-C port and a dual Nano-SIM tray. The phone supports dual 4G with VoLTE.
Huawei’s custom NM card format for storage expansion, which is a smaller version of the microSD standard and can fit in the second SIM slot. The phone doesn’t have a headphone socket but it’s also missing a speaker grille. That’s because Huawei actually uses the USB Type-C port as an outlet for sound. The drawback of this solution is that the sound gets muffled when you’re charging the phone. The phone has three camera sensors and a dual-LED flash in a distinctive four-point layout. The camera module doesn’t sit flush with the rest of the body, due to which there is a slight bump.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro specifications and software
|Processor||Octa-core Kirin 980 (2×2.6GHz, 2×1.92GHz, 4×1.8GHz)|
|RAM||6GB or 8GB|
|Screen resolution||1,440 x 3,120|
|Front camera||24MP, f/2|
|Rear camera||Triple: 40MP, f/1.8; 20MP, f/2.2 (0.6x wide angle); 8MP, f/2.4 (3x telephoto, with OIS)|
|Storage (free)||128GB or 256GB|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||Nano Memory (up to 256GB)|
|Wireless data||4G, Cat21 (1.4Gbits/sec DL; 200Mbits/sec UL)|
|Dimensions||72 x 8.6 x 158mm|
|Operating system||Android 9 Pie (EMUI 9)|
The Mate 20 Pro is powered by the first 7nm mobile SoC, which was unveiled during the IFA trade show in Berlin earlier this year. The Kirin 980 is the successor to the Kirin 970, and promises better performance and efficiency across the board. The Mate 20 Pro is also one of the first devices to get Huawei’s new EMUI 9.0 skin, which is based on Android 9 Pie.
According to Huawei, EMUI 9.0’s main focus is “keeping things clean and accessible,” and to an extent, it has made good on that promise. It’s based on Android 9 Pie, which is good but our unit was still on the slightly older October 2018 Android security patch. The interface is snappy and it’s relatively easy to find what you’re looking for in the Settings app. You can always search for something if you need to find it quickly. EMUI is a single-layered interface by default, but it can switched to the app drawer style. The traditional navigation buttons can be ditched for gestures.
The Mate 20 Pro has Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing feature too, which is renamed to Digital Balance in EMUI 9.0. Similar to stock Android Pie, it lets you monitor your app usage habits and gives you a report on a daily basis. Wind Down is called Bedtime here, and it turns the screen grayscale after the set time. However, one annoyance is that there’s no shortcut to turn this off if you need to. There’s an updated version of Huawei’s GPU Turbo feature in EMUI 9.0, which promises lower touch input latency and better performance in supported games.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro performance, cameras, and battery life
At roughly 189g, it’s on the heavier side and this is noticeable with one-handed use. EMUI has a gesture that shrinks the size of the entire UI so everything is within a thumb’s reach. The display is massive, measuring 6.39 inches diagonally, and has a suitably high QHD+ resolution with support for HDR (Dolby Vision isn’t supported). Huawei lets reduce this if you want, or you can set it to scale automatically based on what you’re doing. It’s an OLED panel, which means blacks are deep, colours are punchy, and you get little conveniences such as an always-on mode.
The new Kirin 980 SoC handles multitasking and heavy apps, especially games, with ease. We managed to get smooth framerates in PUBG Mobile, with the graphics set to ‘HDR’ and the ‘Ultra High’ framerate setting. Battery drain was around 9 percent for a 30-minute run, which is quite good. Other titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade also ran smoothly at the highest settings. Unlike the Kirin 970 SoC, which was notorious for heating up rather quickly, the Kirin 980 didn’t seem to have this issue.
It has 3D face recognition, which is amazingly quick. It worked well in pretty much any lighting condition, including pitch darkness. This is thanks to a combination of a dot projector, IR camera, and flood illuminator. It works even if you’re wearing sunglasses, and you can force the camera to only unlock the phone if your eyes are open.
The three-camera setup on the back is another big highlight of the Mate 20 Pro. Unlike the Huawei P20 Pro setup, the Mate 20 Pro ditches a dedicated monochrome sensor in favor of a camera with a wide-angle lens. This lets the phone shoot standard, wide-angle, and telephoto images — which is a much more useful combination, in our opinion. Going anti-clockwise, we first have a 40-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, followed by a 20-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens and f/2.2 aperture, and finally, an 8-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens, OIS, and an aperture of f/2.4. The phone also supports laser, PDAF, and contrast detection autofocus systems.
The default setting for the primary sensor combines four pixels into one, thereby giving you a 10-megapixel image. This interpolation of pixels ensures more manageable file sizes and better quality photos. You can shoot at the full 40-megapixel resolution if you like. In daylight, the Mate 20 Profocuses quickly and is pretty consistent at getting the exposure right. It has the same 4D predictive autofocus as the P20 Pro, and a toggle switch to enable or disable Master AI. The Mate 20 can shoot videos at up to 4K at 30fps, with no constraint on clip length. Sadly, 4K at 60fps is no supported. Image quality was good in daylight and stabilisation was solid too, but there was a noticeable ‘wobble’ effect from the sides of the frame. At 1080p, this issue wasn’t noticeable and this was the best balance of quality and stabilisation.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro delivers impressive battery performance, generally lasting for more than a full day on a single charge. Despite its generous 4,200mAh capacity, this battery is also quick to top up with the bundled charger. The Mate 20 Pro has a feature called Super Charge. We were able to take the battery from zero all the way to 96 percent in just an hour. This phone also supports 15W fast wireless charging using Huawei’s own dock. With other Qi wireless chargers, like the Pixel Stand, the Mate 20 Pro took a little more than three and half hours to charge fully.
It has a bigger screen, a faster chip, better battery life and a more flexible triple camera arrangement than before. It’s a great smartphone and one that looks and feels refreshingly different to the usual crowd of flagship, glossy glass smartphones, especially with its subtly patterned glass rear. In my opinion, they absolutely should because the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is shaping up to be – with a couple of caveats here and there – a stupendously good phone.